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March Calendar Kid: From preemie to the pitcher’s mound
March 01, 2024
CHoR calendar kid Lucca Fox at the baseball pitcher's mound

    Lucca has come a long way from his one pound start in the neonatal intensive care unit

    Dr. Jenny Fox spends her days – and sometimes nights – in the CHoR NICU as an attending physician. Along with her medical expertise, she brings a unique understanding of what it’s like to be on the receiving end of this care. She spent the first five months of her son Lucca’s life alongside him in one of the same rooms she sees patients in today.

    Now 13 years old, Lucca and his twin sister were born at 26 weeks gestational age, roughly 3.5 months premature. He weighed just over one pound and faced complications requiring care from the multidisciplinary NICU team, including neonatologists, dietitians, speech therapists, respiratory therapists, physical therapists and pharmacists.

    “The care was nothing less than amazing. I remember developing a really strong bond with his nurses caring for him in the NICU and all his NICU providers. I felt like they took me in as a part of a family care package, my husband too,” said Dr. Fox.

    Lucca also benefitted from being in a children’s hospital with pediatric subspecialists from surgery, nephrology, pulmonarycardiology and infectious disease available to assess and treat him in the NICU as needed.

    When Lucca was finally able to go home, he had severe allergies and required follow up with allergy and immunology. He was also followed closely in the outpatient setting by our Neonatal Continuing Care Program to continue meeting his complex health needs while tracking growth and development, and his pediatrician Dr. Romesh Wijesooriya, whom he still sees today.

    Excelling in sports and more with support from CHoR

    CHoR patient Lucca with his family after a baseball gameLucca has come a long way since his tiny preemie days in the NICU. Today, you’re likely to find him in constant motion. He’s been playing baseball with Richmond Little League since he was 5, earning a spot on the summer all-star team each year. Last year, his 13U team made it all the way to regionals, just one step shy of the Little League World Series. He’s also on tennis, basketball and track teams, along with being a fierce competitor in his family’s backyard wiffle ball games.

    “Lucca is a wonderfully engaging kid who is extremely active, inquisitive and gregarious. He has excelled socially, academically and athletically. Overall, he really is a tremendous young man,” said Dr. Romesh, who has enjoyed watching Lucca grow and thrive over the years. “It is pretty crazy to think back to when he (and his twin sister) was a tiny 26-week premature infant and then to fast forward to present day and this thriving young man who is before us now.”

    Without a doubt, Dr. Romesh’s care has played a part in Lucca’s health, both medically and holistically.

    “In my experience, the more I am able to remain in touch with the full humanity of my patients (and their families) the better I can care for them and their unique dreams and desires,” he added. “With Lucca, our shared love of sports has meant that we can connect in this way. In turn, over the years I have been able to have conversations with him and his parents about how to best help him pursue his love of sports in spite of any challenges he might have due to being a former ‘preemie.’  His overall medical care and the conversations we have had for the last 13 years have been intimately informed by his particular passions and dreams.”

    As an adventurous kid, Lucca has had a few unexpected visits to CHoR over the years too. One of his trips to the emergency department involved a neurosurgical evaluation after he climbed to the top of a ladder, fell off and landed on his head. After the initial scare, he enjoyed his 24-hour monitoring in the hospital watching movies, playing video games, and getting visits from toy carts, music therapy and child life.

    Undeterred since birth, Lucca continues to make his goals a reality

    Portrait of CHoR patient LuccaWhen Lucca isn’t playing sports these days, he’s adventurous in a different way. He’s picked up cooking from his father and grandfather and loves learning new gourmet recipes. He’s even developed an interest in becoming a professional chef or food scientist one day.

    Whether it’s winning a baseball game or pursing his career passions, Lucca does his best to make his goals a reality.

    "If he ever feels threatened that his size or skills are holding him back from doing something he wants to do, he takes a moment to think about it and he will figure out how to go all in to overcome it. He is just an amazing kid, full of energy and smart as a whip,” added Mom. “When he was in the NICU, he was so little and fragile appearing. He seemed to constantly have complications and I was terrified that he might not survive. Now that he’s much older, I do still worry about him gaining enough weight with as active as he is with his sports. However, I'm so thankful that now the majority of my thoughts and concerns about him are the normal ones that I'm blessed to have with a healthy teenager.”

    Before delivering her twins preterm, Dr. Fox was in the process of interviewing for a neonatology fellowship out west. The care provided to her babies made her feel so at home at CHoR, she decided to complete her training here and stay on as an attending physician.

    Lucca’s twin sister is doing great too!

    Learn more about the nationally ranked neonatology care at CHoR.

    Bottom photo credit: @NatashaSaraPhtotography

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